Brighter headlights often create discomfort to oncoming drivers
When the Benz Patent Motor Car was invented in 1885, it would have been unimaginable to the drivers of that time that in the 21st century the array of vehicle models, colors, accessories and even headlights would be so varied, or that they would be capable of travelling at such high speeds.
But, even as the technology has moved forward in the past 133 years, the one factor that hasn’t totally changed, as yet, is that there is a human being behind the wheel of the vehicle.
Motor vehicles still have wheels, so far, just like their predecessor,s and they have headlights, but the similarities pretty much ends there. Vehicles come with rear wheel drive, front wheel drive, all wheel drive, ATVs, SUVs and just plain sedans, and on and on.
One fixture that has also become diversified is the headlight. No longer is there just one type or even one color. There are halogens, LED’s and HID’s. There are ones that appear blue, ones that appear yellow and even ones that appear pink.
As a rule, most vehicles come with halogen lights, which use a tungsten-halogen filament mixed with halogen gas to generate much brighter lights than conventional headlights. Another type is Xenon or HID, high-intensity discharge, headlights which are an alternative to halogen bulbs. HID bulbs use another gas, generally xenon, and are brighter than LED’S or halogens. The light emitted from LED bulbs appears blue but are actually high frequency white.
Even within the halogen classification there are extra vision and extra-extra vision lights, according to Don Hudson, owner of Hudson’s Garage.
“It can get expensive changing them,” he said. He added for that reason, most people don’t go to that extreme.
He noted the various types of headlights are all legal and that there are no regulations governing the brightness of the light, just where they are aimed.
He said that when headlights are installed properly, the light will fall within an 8-inch by 8-inch square located 24 feet in front of the vehicle.
One reason car owners change from one type of light to a brighter light, Hudson said, is for safety, particularly on back roads, where there might be deer along the roadway.
Although the brighter headlights are legal, they often create a discomfort to oncoming drivers, particularly those in the more mature category.
According to Kim Smith, safety press officer for the state’s department of transportation, she often hears complaints about the brighter lights from people who attend the department’s Mature Driving Program at senior centers.
Smith said that she tells the senior drivers if the lights bother them, they should contact their local representatives to express their concerns.
“PennDOT cannot control this. We let them know, we hear you and we understand,” she said.
She said the best advice for people who are sensitive to the brighter lights is to look away from the light and focus on the fog lines at the side of the highway.